Thursday, February 14, 2019

This Post Is Not About The Gym

Yesterday I gave my first lecture of 2019. I've had a long time off from travel, and even this was just an hour and bit away, it still counts. Hotel rooms, supper via delivery guy, room full of people looking at me. The longer I take off from lecturing, and this was the longest time ever, the more nervous I get about the whole thing. But I arrived at the hall, was greeted warmly on a really cold day, and as the hall filled I went about my rituals for calming down and right at the right moment I popped my anti-anxiety.

The audience was receptive and as I got going I realized, again, that I was enjoying being there, enjoying teaching, enjoying the questions that came my way. In a blink of an eye, it was lunch time.After Joe and I had eaten I said to him that I'd like to go to see the gym in the community center that we were in. We headed off and up and arrived there to look around.

It was packed with machinery and I rolled around looking at it. My own gym was having members fill out a form suggesting new machinery or other ways to improve the experience. They had come to me and told me about it in case I knew of other machines that had been made accessible. I thought I might get an idea. There wasn't any, not one, and I was surprised. I spoke to the guy there and asked if this was a city run gym in a community center or if it was like a Planet Fitness or something. He said it was run by the city.

I asked him, then, where the accessible machines were. He said they had one where the seat could be pulled out. It was over near a corner and though it was cool it was hardly enough for someone with a disability to bother. I asked him why there weren't options for people with disabilities, in a taxpayer funded place shouldn't all taxpayers have access.

Now, for those who wish I'd shut up about the gym and going to the gym, here's where the switch happens. The post isn't about the gym but about what he said in response to my question. So what did he say in answer to my question about why there weren't options for disabled people? In a firm tone, "This gym is for the general public."

I stopped still.

He looked back to see me no longer behind him in chatting distance.

"I am a member of the general public," I said.

He looked confused and started talking to me about some other place with the word 'ability' in it's name where I might be able to go.

What part of Community in 'Community Center' did he not understand? 

But, I had to get back and go on with my lecture.

He had flat out told me that  I don't belong, I am not welcome, I am not one of 'us' ... I am not part of the general public. I am something else that should go somewhere else.

Sometimes ableism and disphobia is so deeply ingrained that people don't even understand the impact of their words. They don't even understand the depth of their prejudice. The can say clearly, 'not you, not here' and still think they offer service to the general public.

There is work to be done.

So much work to be done.

5 comments:

Tyger said...

Almost circuit training machines at my YMCA gym have instructions for wheelchair users. I’m blanking on the brand of machine, but it’s got to be standard.

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

It's circular: they have no machines disabled members of the public can use, so people who are disabled come and never return, so they don't NEED machines for disabled members of the public - because they never come.

Glad you gave him a poke in the awareness; hope you follow up with his boss, and that person's boss, and the people who hosted the conference where you spoke... Sounds like a good job for a volunteer - to follow up on your discoveries. You've done enough to start the process, but a few drops of water aren't enough to wear a channel in the hearts of stone.

Neeshma said...

As a developmental services worker student, this blog gave me an inspiration and motivation in my career. The postings are appropriate and important to know all the aspects of a person with disability.In my opinion, the attitude of the society has to be change, the society needs to accept the population with disability and make everything accessible for them, because they are also a part of our society. Disability is not a barrier to their goals and dreams, so we are the persons to accommodate and consider them and support them to achieve their goals in their life. It is their right to live in the society as we do. Here the gym guy deserve that reply from you, because he needs to know that, everybody is a part of the society and never to be discriminate a person on the basis of their physical ability.Thought provoking posting.

Neeshma said...

As a developmental and services worker student, this blog is an informative one. The experiences of the blogger was realistic and therefore, it inspired me a lot. The postings shared by the blogger gave me a great idea regarding different aspect of a person with physical disability. Here, the guy deserves that reply from you, it is not only his mistake, it is because of the attitude of the society.The society needs to accept the population with disability. They also have the right to access the services they are interested in. It is not fair to sacrifice a person's dreams and goals only because of their disability. Therefore, the society should change their view ad perspective regarding people with disability. They were also part of our society, so make everything accessible for them and acceptable.

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